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David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

A Community of Support through the ‘Click’ of a Nose

Starting in 2012, curatorial staff at CSTMC began a five year project of collecting ‘new technologies’. We assigned a different theme to each of the five years with the underlying goal of reflecting 21st century Canadian life. For 2014, my colleagues and I set about collecting technologies that related to building families and creating communities. Given the scope of the histories we collect, ‘community’ can be defined quite broadly and in a myriad of ways. For me, however, this idea of community as a support group is best represented in a current collecting opportunity, a 2012 laptop, camera and software program called Nouse. Anita Scott-Harrison, a patient at the Bruyère Continuing Care facility here in Ottawa, had been the first person to test this system:

“When I became paralyzed two years ago, people found it hard to come and visit. (…) I missed speaking with my family and friends. (…) Two persons, a laptop, and new software called Nouse helped turn things around for me. Hillary, my occupational therapist, who thankfully noticed that I was regaining a little bit of head movement, enough to use Nouse. Bill, my volunteer here at Saint Vincent’s, ever so kind and considerate. Bill was in my room one day, listening as Hillary described what would be required. I would need a laptop, the Nouse software, a Wifi account, and email account pre-initialized with my contacts. We would also need to know how to position the laptop when I wanted to use it. Clearly, Hillary would have her work cut out for her! With no hesitation at all, Bill volunteered to add another day to his visits, provided me with a laptop and Nouse, which he installed (and customized) for me.” [1]

 

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

David Bissessar and Anita Scott-Harrison at Bruyère Continuing Care, Ottawa, On.

This quote was taken from a testimonial that Anita wrote about her use and experience with the perceptual vision technology called Nouse, or Nose as Mouse, that enables vision-based, hands-free interaction with a computer. The system takes a video sequence as an input, and splits it into the channels corresponding to the motion, colour and intensity components of video. The system begins by performing face segmentation and detection tasks which enables the software to estimate where the face is in the video. Once a face has been detected, the user is required to manually choose the features that he/she wants to be tracked. This is called ‘stereo-tracking’ and the software makes use of the convex-shape of the nose in order to allow 3D face-tracking with the aid of an ordinary web-camera.

The Nouse Cursor is similar to the standard mouse arrow.

The Nouse Cursor is similar to the standard mouse arrow.

Dr. Dmitry Gorodnichy developed the Nouse technology at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). In 2007 Dr. Gorodnichy founded a company called IVIM Inc. and licensed the Nouse technology from NRC, with the intension to further develop Nouse. This technology has also been approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Care Assistive Devices Program. The research and innovation inherent in the development of Nouse, as well as its applications and intended audience, makes this piece a welcome addition to the existing collection of assistive technologies at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Clicking with the Nouse software is performed with the assistance of a timer.

Clicking with the Nouse software is performed with the assistance of a timer.

What excites me most about this acquisition, however, is that its history of use and adaptation represents a unique community of care and support. Anita, the donor, became paralyzed in 2012 and moved to Bruyère Continuing Care in Ottawa, Ontario. The Bruyère Research Institute, a partnership of Bruyère Continuing Care and the University of Ottawa, has been a key partner in assisting with the development of Nouse. Anita started using Nouse in 2014 with the support of her occupational therapist, hospital volunteer, family members, and staff from IVIM Inc. These varying expertise and types of knowledge were collectively necessary in making Anita’s use of this software a success. Without each member of this community of support, different elements of her adoption of Nouse would not have been possible.

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to Anita for having shared her story. Through it we recognize and admire her strength and determination. I would also like to thank David Bissessar for his efforts and dedication to Nouse and for his invaluable support during the Museum’s acquisition process.

Sources:

Anita Scott-Harrison’s Testimonial, http://www.nouse.ca/en/testimonial.php

Nose as Mouse: Assistive Technology, http://www.nouse.ca/

[1] Anita Scott-Harrison’s Testimonial, http://www.nouse.ca/en/testimonial.php (accessed 23/09/2014). This testimonial was written with Nouse.

This is the kit ! Donated to the Museum by Parks Canada in March 2013.
Photo: CSTMC/T.Alfoldi

In Search of George Klein’s Snow Study Kit

My research on the history of avalanche studies in Canada started in December 2012 when I made several enquiries as to the possible location of a snow study kit developed by George Klein.

Klein Snow Study Kit, 1947-2013
Manufacturer: National Research Council Canada, Division of Building Research, Source: Parks Canada, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks
Location: Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada, B.C.
Artifact no.: 2013.0059.001-.010

A pioneer of the Alouette satellite program, Klein is regarded as one of Canada’s most prolific inventors. He developed the box kit pictured below as well as published Method of Measuring the Significant Characteristics of a Snow-Cover (NRC, MM-192) in the mid 1940’s. But where was the kit? How do I set out looking for it? Would I get lucky enough to find it?

View a 1958 video of the Klein snow kit in use in Rogers Pass, B.C.

photo box only

The complete set of instruments.
Weighing 16 lbs, the set included snow sample cutters, a beam balance, two snow hardness gauges, ruler, cup, magnifying glass, spatula, and thermometers.
Photo: Reproduced with the permission of the National Research Council Canada

Fuelled by curiosity, and knowing of the possible links to avalanche research in Canada, enquiries and connections were made. I had several discussions with Richard Bourgeois-Doyle of the NRC in Ottawa, also George Klein’s biographer, and people from the Centre d’avalanche de la Haute-Gaspésie in Québec, the Canadian Avalanche Association in Revelstoke, Parks Canada, and with the ASARC program at the University of Calgary.

Perseverance paid off! It was in January 2013, with the invaluable help of Dr. John Woods, a retired Parks Canada naturalist, and an enthusiastic Phd student from the Applied Snow and Avalanche Research (ASARC) program at the University of Calgary. They located a snow study kit. This one contained some of Klein’s original instruments, which meant it had been in use for over sixty years. The well weathered instruments stood the test of time, and were still in use at the Mount Fidelity research station in Glacier National Park of Canada, B.C.

With a gracious invitation by Jacolyn Daniluck, a Parcs Canada Communications Officer, I travelled to Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada in March 2013 (on this and other related business). It was there I met Jeff Goodrich, an expert in avalanche operations, who would donate a second kit to the Museum. This one, not in use since 2005 had four of Klein’s original instruments: a 500 gram beam balance stamped NRC/DBR, a snow sampling tool, bowl, and a snow density gauge.

 

Donated to the Museum by Parks Canada in March 2013. Photo: CSTMC/T.Alfoldi

The three instruments pictured, part of one of Klein’s original snow science kits, were donated by Parks Canada in March 2013. Used in the 1950’s by Noel Gardner and NRC avalanche pioneer Peter Schaerer during the construction of the Trans-Canada highway through Rogers Pass, the instruments became part of this red kit and used thereafter by Parks Canada in snow research and avalanche control until very recently.

These instruments, developed by Klein for the classification of snow-ground covers were originally intended to advance his research in the development of snow landing gear for aircraft. His research however would also eventually contribute to the foundation of an international standard for snow classification as well as to avalanche studies during the planning and construction of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Snow Study Plot, Mount Fidelity, Parks Canada, 1965, Glacier National Parc, B.C.
Fred Schleiss is holding a snow crystal identification card and looking at the crystal type. Seen hooked on the handle of the shovel, the Klein beam balance and small bucket are some of the basic instruments used to determine snow density of various layers within this snow pit.
Photo: Reproduced with the permission of Parks Canada.

Klein’s snow instruments made their way to Rogers Pass where they were used by Canadian avalanche pioneers Noel Gardner and Peter Schaerer during the planning and construction phases of the Trans-Canada Highway in the mid to late 1950’s, and used almost to this day in the Parks Canada avalanche control program.

Snow Study Plot, Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada, B.C.

Many thanks to Johan Schleiss who gave me a very “cool” tour of their snow study plot in Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada, B.C. Photo by author, March 2013

 

Click here to view VIDEO: Snowplow on the Trans-Canada Highway

Snowplow on the Trans-Canada Highway

This video was taken from the Bostok Creek parking lot at the foot of Mt. Fidelity, in Glacier National Park of Canada. Located at an elevation of 1,900m, the Mt. Fidelity Research Station monitors weather and conducts snowpack analysis for avalanche control. With an average annual snowfall of about 14m (42 feet), it is the snowiest place in Canada and ranked third snowiest place on Earth.

Digging Deeper:

Land of Thundering Snow
http://www.landofthunderingsnow.ca/index-eng.php” rel=”nofollow”>www.landofthunderingsnow.ca/index-eng.php

Backcountry Avalanche Information

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/glacier/visit/a9.aspx

Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa

http://cstmuseum.techno-science.ca/en/hall-of-fame/hall-of-fame-george-j-klein.php

Glacier National Park Canada

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/glacier/index.aspx

Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada

http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/rogers/index.aspx

 

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to Parks Canada (Jeff Goodrich, Jacolyn Daniluck, and Johan Schleiss) for donating the Klein kit and other artifacts to the Museum. To Dr. John Woods, Wildvoices Consulting and Mike Conlan, ASARC Program, University of Calgary for finding Klein instruments still in use and pointing me in the right direction. To the National Research Council of Canada, who started the whole thing in the first place and for the use of the photo of the original Klein snow study kit, and to Dick Bourgeois-Doyle for answering the many questions I had on George Klein.

Sources:

Bourgeois-Doyle, R., George Klein: The Great Inventor, National Research Council Press, Ottawa, Canada, 1994.

Klein, G.J., Method of Measuring the Significant Characteristics of a Snow-Cover, Report No. MM-192, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, November 1946.

Klein, G.J., Canadian Survey of Physical Characteristics of Snow-Covers, For presentation at the Oslo Conference of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, June 1948.

Proceedings of 1947 Conference on Snow and Ice, Associate Committee on Soil and Snow Mechanics. Technical Memorandum No. 10 of the Associate Committee on Soil and Snow Mechanics, NRC, Ottawa, October 1947.

The International Classification for Snow, Issued by the International Association of Hydrology. Published as Technical Memorandum No. 31 by the Associate Committee on Soil and Snow Mechanics. National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, August 1954

CSTMC / M.Labrecque, 2014